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SEC defensive player of the year and Missouri Tigers star lineman Michael Sam has come out as gay.
According to ESPN, Sam came out publicly in an interview with Outside the Lines on Sunday.
The 24-year-old’s announcement is especially significant since he is eligible for this year’s NFL draft. No player in the history of the NFL has ever come out as gay.
"I understand how big this is," he said. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."
According to The New York Times, the senior’s University of Missouri teammates learned of Sam’s sexuality in the preseason. When coaches asked players to talk a little bit about themselves, Sam courageously told the team he was gay.
It will be interesting to see if and where the 6-foot-2, 260-pound defensive lineman goes in the 2014 NFL Draft. We may never know if his sexual orientation will hurt his chances, but we highly doubt that he would be the only gay player in league. Perhaps the macho status that comes with being an NFL player has kept others from wanting to come out. Maybe Sam has helped to change that.